What are my rights if I was fired from a job with the only stated reason being that the new CEO decided that a credential was required for my position?

I am over 45. The interim person was under 40 but has a credential. Less than 5 months after I was let go. The job opening has been posted for permanent employment and the position description is exactly the same as when I was hired for it, with no requirement for the credential. I live and work in an “at will” state but I’m wondering if this is this age discrimination? I thought that the position had to be significantly different when they rehire, especially when they rehire so soon after letting someone go, however the position description is exactly the same.

Asked on November 20, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, there is no legal requirement that the position be significantly different when rehiring. The issue is, will the permanent person who is ultimately hired 1) be under 40; and 2) if he/she is, does he or she have a relevant credential which you lack? If the person is over 40, then it's not age discrimination to replace one over-40 with another; or if he/she has a relevant credential which you lack, it is most likely not age discrimination to "upgrade" job requirements to require a credential. 
If the permanent replacement is under 40 and doesn't have different/higher-level credentials than you, however, then that may be illegal age-based employment discrimination, and you may wish to speak with the federal EEOC or your state equal/civil rights agency about filing a complaint.


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